MANILA -- The Philippines and China will address "irritants" in disputed waters using bilateral mechanisms, President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman said Monday.
Duterte informed his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, of the "irritants" during their bilateral meeting in Beijing last week, on the sidelines of the Belt and Road Forum, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.
The "irritants" refer to "everything there - from the presence of the ships, from the alleged harassment, he said.
"Both of them (Duterte and Xi) agree that the mechanism of bilateral relations will be used to resolve the conflict," Panelo said.
Panelo earlier said Duterte specifically discussed the situation in Pag-asa Island during the latter's meeting with Xi. Chinese ships have been reported near Pag-asa, the largest Filipino-held island in the Spratlys.
The Chinese leader reportedly told Duterte during their meeting that Beijing does not recognize Manila's victory in a United Nations-backed arbitral court.
The ruling from the Permanent Court of Arbitration invalidated China's sweeping claims over the vital waterway.
Panelo said China remained "open" to talks given both leaders agreed to resolve the issue through bilateral means.
"Both sides repeated their previous position on the matter and they both agree na whatever irritants or challenges, pag-usapan natin sa (let's talk about it in the) negotiations," Panelo added.
Philippine Ambassador to China Chito Sta. Romana earlier said Duterte and Xi agreed to deal with rising maritime tensions between the Philippines and China through "peaceful, diplomatic" means.
"The basic consensus is although we proceed with some differences, these can be resolved through peaceful, diplomatic means. And the Chinese side expressed the willingness in the interest of friendship and cooperation to address some of the issues we have raised," Sta. Romana said.